What is potassium sorbate?

For those who are looking to understand the numerous ingredients you see on hair products, one you might see a lot of is potassium sorbate. This particular product has become a topic of regular discussion for a lot of people.

What is potassium sorbate? 

It’s a chemical additive that has bene used for over a century, and is a tasteless, odourless salt that is produced very specifically. It’s commonly used in shampoo and moisturising products, as well as eyeshadows and various other cosmetic goods. 

At the most basic level, potassium sorbate is the potassium salt that comes from sorbic acid. It’s a white salt that is extremely water soluble and is used in various ways. For one, it’s a commonly used food preservative to help keep our food in good condition for longer. However, it’s also commonly used in cosmetic products and personal care products. It’s also naturally found being developed in berries worldwide. The potassium sorbate that you would find in most products, though, is made in a synthetic solution.

What is potassium sorbate used for?

It’s produced by taking sorbic acid, and then neutralising it using potassium hydroxide. The uses of potassium sorbate can be rich and varied, and it’s commonly used in various forms of food and drink. You often find it in alcoholic beverages as well as being used in dairy products and dried meats. It’s also commonly used to prepare various forms of syrup and other such sugary goods.

In terms of using it for our health, though, potassium sorbate is often found in herbal dietary supplements. This is to help prevent the development of mould in the product, and to ensure that it can avoid the build-up of microbial problems inside.

It’s also been used to help make sure that we can start using preservative solutions compared to parabens. So, if you are used to working with any kind of care product that uses potassium sorbate, you can feel safe in the knowledge that is it for the most part used to kill off potential infections and build-ups of yeast and potential microbial threats long-term.


Written by Jordan Prichard. Medically reviewed by Dr. Shane Jackson, MBBS. Last modified on 20/05/2020. 


Dr. Shane Jackson a UK based doctor, working within the NHS for 9 years. With experience in both Medicine and Surgery, his time is now spent mainly in Elderly care and Rehabilitation. Outside of his clinical work he has a strong educational presence, teaching undergraduates and foreign doctors wishing to work in the UK. He is passionate about the dissemination of healthcare for all, providing consultancy for health, well-being and biotech startups worldwide. Dr. Jackson is the founder of Acrosophy, which helps school leavers applying to medical, dental and associated courses at the top universities in the country. 

Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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